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A Lesson for MLK Day





An oldie but a goodie, in my opinion. Back in case you missed it! It's January, and our annual celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is just around the corner. Martin Luther King Day has not always been a national holiday, and during all the years when school districts were sorting through whether they would observe by having school or by not having school, Dr. King's family has always reminded us to "Make it a day ON, not a day OFF."

So what are you doing in your classroom to commemorate the life of this American legend? In case you are still looking around for a few ideas to add to your lesson plan, here are some you might like. The Martin Luther King unit has always been my favorite one to teach because it reaches my students at their core. I love watching them search deep inside of themselves for who they are and what they stand for, and then find a way to share that with all of us. Isn't that just what Dr. King did: reach deep inside himself to find what really mattered and then try to share it with the world?

Of course, my fourth graders know about the "I Have a Dream" speech long before they reach their year with me, but not many are aware that Dr. King carefully chose the Lincoln Memorial as the place to deliver that speech and why. The second line of this speech begins, "Five score years ago...", referring to the Gettysburg address, which of course begins, "Four score and seven years ago...", referring to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Wait.... What's going on here...could there be some connection across time and history between people who tried to make things better for all of us? Of course there was. Here's the sequence I present to my students:

1. Read the Declaration of Independence together. (You can even do a CLOSE READ of it if you must!)
2. Discuss how the Declaration was kind of like a letter from the Founding Fathers to England that "This is how it's going to be around here from now on."
3. Read the Gettysburg Address together. I use a beautifully illustrated picture book for that reading by Abraham Lincoln, of course, but with illustrations by Michael McCurdy.
4. Discuss how the Gettysburg Address was really a letter from Lincoln to the Founding Fathers on how it was going 87 years after the signing of the Declaration.
5. Next we get to the famous Dream speech. There are so many illustrated versions of this speech. Wasn't this speech meant to be a letter informing President Lincoln that we as a people had not really come as far along as his vision  for us?  That's precisely why it was delivered right in front of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.

For children (and many of their teachers!) who were not here when the Civil Rights Movement was happening, when Dr. King made his speeches, or when he was assassinated, I have found this sequence to be a pretty effective way of placing King Day in its proper historical perspective.

To add personal meaning to each child, I challenge my students to write a letter to Dr. King, telling him how we're doing today as the beneficiaries of his dream. How is that vision working for each of us?

My complete lesson plan, which adds a craftivity, poetry, literature and video resources, along with student samples and a rubric which makes grading a snap, is available by clicking here:






You might also like this free download to keep the love flowing through Acts of Kindness the rest of the year:


Who will make the difference to finally bring peace to all of us? Those sweet children sitting in all of our classrooms right now! The dream lives as long as people believe in it and believe that their actions will make a difference!

Artwork at the top of this page by Maya, one of my sweet students, keeping the dream alive!




For more teaching ideas for this month, be sure  to check out the other blogs of Teacher Talk!

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One Heart



Sitting here at the doorstep of a brand new decade, I can feel the faint stirrings of love in the air. I'd like to suggest that we fan those tiny flames within our classrooms in this new year. Bringing love back into our hearts, or nurturing it if it is already there, is also a sure way to the classroom management system of your dreams. No need for a fancy-dancy management plan if love for all members of the community is shared. Kids who care about each other share respect and act with kindness. It all goes hand in hand. "Come on people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together. Try to love one another right now." (Youngbloods 1967) Still true. Still needed.

My podcast group is talking about kids' books with a theme of love this week. Soooo many books for kids have an underlying theme of love, from Granny Torelli's love for Rosie that helps to mend her friendship with Bailey (Granny Torelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech) to the love shown by all her classmates when Marilyn falls ill with cancer in The Lemonade Club by Patricia Polacco. Endless books in between. I began my search with picture books, looking for one that might be new on the scene since I left the classroom, and discovered a gem! Scribble Stones by Diane Alber is a great way to share some some love. In this book, a little river rock type of stone (named Stone, appropriately! Hahaha!) is looking forward to his life, hoping to make a difference in the world. Not only is he the very last one left on the rock pile, but his fate seems to be that of a paperweight. Stone's course changes when some scribbles and splatters happen by and use up all the paper that Stone is holding down. Stone invites them to decorate him as well! Other stones somehow become aware of this art happening, and show up on the desk. The newly artful stones become gifts and are shared around the world to inspire creativity and to share love and kindness. Love love love! IMO, there is absolutely nothing on the earth that can't be improved by adding in the arts.

Just as when I was lesson planning for my Rainbow City students, looking for connections to this read-aloud text sent me down another long rabbit hole. Bob Marley's "One Love" was playing on a loop in my brain. I started to search on YouTube for a classroom worthy clip to share, and stumbled upon picture books written by Marley's daughter, Cedella. She has changed the words to be meaningful to young children, but retained the theme: As humans we share one love and one heart. The colorful illustrations jump off the page and into your heart. I bought the book on Kindle, and love it! You can also use this Youtube link to see the book. One Love by Cedella Marley .  A beautiful rendition of this song performed by artists all over the world can be found here: One Love Song Around the World .

All these thoughts of love, art, and music makes me think about the Art Abandonment Project. It's a great way to integrate the arts and share the love in your classroom, school, and community. I've created a resource that you can use in your classroom to start with rocks. Expand from there with all sorts of art. The sky's the limit!


Some questions that you can use to focus a discussion about sharing love in the classroom are:
How can making art, sharing art, and acts of kindness spread love?
How are art and love related?

Come on people now! Hope you'll try some of these ideas in your classroom! Listen to our podcast We Teach So Hard for more ideas on sharing books about love, and check out the blog posts of my podcasting friends below!
Wishing you all the best that life and teaching have to offer as we step together into the next decade!










For more lit suggestions and teaching ideas from my podcasting buddies, be sure to check out the posts below:
(Clockwise, from top left:)
One Heart  // Rainbow City Learning
Showing Our Love // Tried & True Teaching Tools

Love is in the Air/ Wild Child’s Mossy Oak Musings

Reducing Holiday Stress


Here I am - last one to this party! I missed our podcast session about celebrating the holidays with food, drink, friends, and books. I knew this wasn't going to be easy.  I'm the one who always asks at the beginning, "You know what's really hard?" and I missed one. What's really hard is missing that special time with three treasured friends when we talk about stuff and invite all of you in!

Pick one book, they said, to share with our podcast listeners. Connect it to a cocktail and a main course to enjoy during the holiday season. One book? I am constantly reading. Moving on to the next book, and the next, and the one after that like a fickle false friend. Most of them don't even stay with me for very long because I've moved on to six or twelve books after that one. Cocktail? I don't drink. A little wine maybe once every month or two, but haven't had a cocktail since college when I used to order frozen daiquiris without the rum (or whatever the liquor was in that one). I've always thought that the addition of liquor spoils my drink. I'm a Shirley Temple kind of girl. Sugar is my opiate, not alcohol. And cooking? As our family has grown, making everyone happy with a home-cooked meal seems more and more unlikely. Sigh. This feels like an assignment.

Getting ready to write this post despite all of the above, I took a look at some books in my iBooks and Kindle libraries. It was like a reunion with long lost friends! Gabrielle Zevin - how could I ever forget her? One of my favorite authors ever! (She should not start celebrating right away, though. Remember that I am fickle. I will read almost anything!) I did love her long-ago young adult book Elsewhere, an imagining of Heaven as a wonderful place where we meet up with family, friends, and even famous people who have passed on previously, and we all age backwards. Lovely, thought-provoking, dream inducing quick read. The older I get, the more appealing I find that aging backwards thing. Ha! Reminds me of  when I saw the movie "Benjamin Button" with a large group of friends at this time of year. I LOVED IT!!! The entire group, except for me, hated it. They still won't ever let me pick the movie just because of my undying love for Benjamin Button.

A Book For You
Anyway, as usual, I digress. A few years ago, I picked up a lovely little book by Gabriele Zevin once more. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. This is my recommendation for you this winter season. Make a cup of hot chocolate (sugar, not alcohol - see?), cuddle up under a comforter, and dig in. If you're reading this, you might be a teacher, and what teacher doesn't love books, and maybe even long to wander through a small and quirky bookstore while on vacation?

A.J. Vikry, the main character of this story, is a curmudgeonly small bookshop owner on a small island called Alice Island. He is 36 years old, recently widowed, and his most prized possession, a collection by Poe, has been stolen. Amelia, a sales rep from a publishing company, and an abandoned child named Maya help him to turn his life and his bad attitude around. As you read this, you will see books and family in a whole new light, even if you have always loved both.

Another divergent note, while browsing through a favorite tiny still standing bookstore in Stratford, Ontario last year, I found another of Gabrielle Zevin's novels. This one is Young Jane Young, also highly recommended.

Connecting Book and Menu
As I think back on The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, I can't help but think about all the configurations and twists and turns that can make up a family or a circle of friends. Families and friendship groups morph and change, sometimes are taken apart, and then put back together in a new way. The menu I will be sharing here does just that with food. It takes apart a recipe, displays it in a deconstructed form, and then allows each person to reconstruct it in a way that is pleasing to that one person.

Entertaining these two groups, family and friends, so important in our lives, can be a horror story or a fairy tale. I choose to make it easy and enjoy a happy ending. While visiting four of our beautiful grandchildren overseas a few years ago, Papa and Grandma were responsible for dinner every night. Every suggestion we offered turned up someone who didn't like/couldn't eat/was allergic to something. And so, the "deconstructed dinner" was born! (It might have already been invented by someone else, but I have always thought of it as my own creation. If you are the actual creator, I apologize. My grandchildren sure think it's me!)

On to the Deconstructed Dinner!
Menu:
Deconstructed Cocktails
Deconstructed appetizer skewers
Deconstructed Mongolian Barbecue
Deconstructed Truffles

Cocktail Time!
As your guests arrive, have pitchers ready of sweet tea, herbal tea, lemonade, pink lemonade, wine, and beer. Have sliced limes, lemons, oranges, and maraschino cherries available in small dishes. Children will of course need help with assembly. Their "mocktails" will be herbal tea and lemonade. My daughter likes to cut that further with a little water to make it not quite as sugary and strong. Adults can mix any combo they like to their heart's content, allowing teetotalers and cocktail lovers alike to enjoy their perfect brew.

Rev Up Their Appetites!
Small wooden or metal skewers or even toothpicks next to a tray or two of these lovelies: sliced meats, cubed cheeses, melons, herbs like fresh basil leaves. Mix it up! Guests skewer and munch any combination of the above while waiting for their turn at the main event.

Main course: Deconstructed Mongolian Barbecue
Neither Mongolian nor a Barbecue, this cooking method was developed in Taiwan in 1951. It is a combination of Chinese Stir Fry and Japanese Tepanyaki Grill cooking. I dreamed this one up at my grandson's favorite restaurant, bd's Mongolian Grill. (Later found out, of course, that I was not the first to take this one and run, but don't tell my grandkids. Please. They call it "Grandma's bd's". My moment of fame.)
I change  this up in one way to make it even more easy. I spread slices of chicken breast, flank steak, and small shrimp on a sheet pan and precook it all. I use foil sprayed with cooking spray for easy cleanup. I also use two or three additional sheet pans to precook tons of veggies. Your choice, of course, but we (some of us anyway) love: bell pepper in all the colors, onion,  broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus, and carrots. Oh, and those cute little baby corn cobs. I sometimes have to get them in cans. No one knows.
The grilling station consists of an electric wok, bowls of precooked noodles (we use linguine!) and precooked rice. If you are brave and watch carefully, a child can cook his/her own meal. We do it this way: Our three year old granddaughter takes orders and her seven year old brother is the chef at the wok under Papa's watchful eye. We make giant tin foil hats to wear (like they do at bd's) and pour our everything into this. Feel free to dabble or dive!
Each order gets a splash of light olive oil, then whatever mix of protein and veggies is requested. Noodles or rice are added next, and a stir fry sauce goes in at the end. It's really a warming process, not a cooking one with everything being precooked, so all can be served pretty quickly. Stir fry sauces are the final touch for making this easy: PF Chang makes four or five kinds, available in supermarkets everywhere around here. The kids and sweet-loving Grandma here prefer the Sesame one.

Don't Skip Dessert:
This one started as a science lesson for my fourth graders a long time ago to explain cratering. It is yummy with or without the lesson!

And there it is! Break it up, and put it all back together again! I love books that do that for me. Break up old ideas about almost anything, and piece it all back together again in a new and thought-provoking way! I can see you now, raising a glass of holiday cheer to your family and friends, feasting on a healthy reconstructed meal, and hopefully discussing some books you've all read lately.

For a fun bookmark, from my Unicorn collection, along with the Truffles Recipe, just click here!

Wishing you a relaxing holiday break, filled with friends, family, food, and some alone time to curl up with a new book!









For the recipes, bookmarks, and posts from my podcasting friends, click below!
To hear our podcasts, click here!


For this month's awesome posts from Teacher Talk,  click here!

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Honesty


"Honesty is such a lonely word...Honesty is hardly ever heard."(Billy Joel circa 1978) It's hard to be honest. You know the situation. Two kids are having a disagreement. One hurts the other, either emotionally or physically. You ask one or both to say that they're sorry. What do you get? A totally devoid of emotion, eyes cast down, "Sorry." uttered in the smallest, most insincere voice possible. You will also get two versions of the same story, so different that it would take King Solomon to solve the mystery.

I enjoyed a down to earth discussion recently of  how this elusive character trait affects our teaching, along with some great literature suggestions where the theme of honesty is addressed. You can hear the podcast here: We Teach So Hard, Episode 62

My contribution to our discussion was a favorite of my fourth graders, both as a read-aloud and as a book club discussion choice, The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. The book tackles the most difficult component of honesty, the ability to be honest with yourself.

In The Tiger Rising, Rob and his father have moved to Lister, Florida from their home in Jacksonville. In the wake of his wife's death, Rob's dad lost his job and had to move with Rob to the Kentucky Star Motel in Lister in hopes of finding new employment and a chance to get back on their feet. This fresh start was a fresh open wound for Rob. He had to start at a new school (of course replete with bullies) for the sixth grade. The angry red rash on his legs was a symptom of his massive stress, but he used the possibility of being contagious to get out of school. Willie May, the housekeeper at the motel, Rob's new home, told him that the rash was his sadness that he was holding way down low, and that he should let it rise to his heart. Along with the sadness rash, Rob pushed every other feeling he had into an imaginary suitcase in the pit of his stomach.

Rob's situation begins to change when he finds a caged tiger living mysteriously in a cage in the woods behind the motel. The tiger becomes another secret for him to hold close. Rob also meets Sistine, another new sixth grader from Philadelphia. Sistine is brutally honest. Introducing herself to her new southern classmates, she says, "I hate the South because the people in it are ignorant." Not quite the way to make new friends!

Rob and Sistine bond while riding the school bus and battling bullies, and Rob shares the secret of the tiger. You truly need to experience this wonderful book! Of course you will want to find out if the tiger is freed, and whether Rob is ever able to unpack his emotional suitcase and to cure his sadness rash.

A great followup activity for The Tiger Rising is my splatter paint flowers. Find the activity here for poetry (just click on the photos below) and add words about honesty or character traits of Rob and Sistine in the center of the flowers.

For another way to create the flowers indoors, visit this blog post: Make a Splash in April 

One more idea inspired by this amazing book: Try creating an honesty rock garden. Paint rocks with messages about honesty and decorate your school walkways or classroom window box with them. To create rock gardens with paper, try these!


For many more ideas about using books to teach kids about honesty, be sure to read the blogs below, and to visit our podcast. Wishing you truth and happiness in the days ahead with your class because YOU teach so hard!




Enough


Our family has a reunion every year at Thanksgiving time. We are scattered all over the country (actually all over the world) now, but each year as many as possible try to meet up for a banquet cooked by professional chefs (yay!) rather than by any of us. We meet in a hotel back where I grew up and spend several days just enjoying each other and loving on our newest generation. It takes me back to my childhood, when most of the meals were home cooked, certainly at Thanksgiving, and when most of my extended family hung out together all the time. We were there for so many of the milestones in each other's lives, sometimes because they were official and came with an invitation, and sometimes because we just happened to all be there. We were all always there, either at my parents' house, or my grandparents' house, known simply as "down the house" (In Pittsburghese, "You goin' dahn the hause?" Or, "See ya later dahn the hause." We never said yinz in our family, but we sure pronounced words like dahn and hause just that way. It brings a tear. Sigh.

Our Thanksgiving celebrations through the years always included the long table for adults and the kids' table. I believe I sat at the kids' table until I graduated from college and was married with a tiny apartment table of my own. It was a good place to be, and a great place to grow up.

We hosted a brunch at our house today, and my favorite grandson (aka only grandson) asked if we could move the kids' table to the end of the adult table so that it would be just one long table and we all could sit together. What a brilliant idea! I wish I had thought to ask my grandmother the same question. Her kids' table was seriously all the way in the living room. We always felt that we were missing something over there! Brunch was so much fun today, and the furniture arrangement just might have had something to do with it!

Thoughts of Thanksgivings past and future also brought me to the thoughts of the season of excess, which seems to start earlier and earlier each year. I thought I had finished all of my holiday shopping yesterday, but thought of several items that I wanted to add today. A tiny voice in my head said, "Enough!" The voice was right. I took some time tonight to think of all the things that I have enough of. I certainly have enough clothes to last forever. Six bags are ready for donation right now. I have a precious family to love, and I know they love me, so enough love. I have probably far more friends than any one person deserves, so enough friendship. Although I've had a couple of health related scares this year, I am mostly blessed with good health. I do request that you stay away from me though if you have not had your flu shot. Learned that the hard way. Enough food? Probably too much, given my never-ending struggles with the scale.

Yes, enough. I am so sure that I have enough that I have no holiday wish list of my own. The fifty or so days ahead might just be a good time to consider with your students and children or grandchildren, nieces, and nephews - whoever is important in your life - what exactly each of you has enough of. And then, you might want to extend the conversation to ways you can reach out and share with others who might not have enough. Some examples (some that I've talked about in previous blog posts) might be:

  • Adopt a family to gather and wrap holiday gifts for.
  • Pack winter comfort bags for the homeless.
  • Visit an elderly residence and play board games or sing. 
  • Plan an act of kindness to do every day (or even once a week) for someone else.
  • Share your holiday spirit by learning more about winter holidays celebrated by others in your community and around the world.
An amazing book that I've just discovered is I am Enough by Grace Byers. It is a lovely way to remind our children that each of them is a precious gift to the world.

For resources to make your teaching life a little easier in the days ahead, and to learn about winter holidays celebrated by others, click here! Winter Holidays with Rainbow City Learning
For resources to emphasize Gratitude, click here! Celebrating Gratitude with Rainbow City Learning

In the days ahead, I wish you a seat at the table surrounded by those you love, and the most precious of gifts to open: friendship, caring, and awareness of the needs of others.









For more November thoughts and tips, be sure to check out the posts of my blogging friends.



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Bullyproof Your Kids For Life


My eyes aren't what they used to be. As we entered the high school parking lot for our favorite eight year old's flag football practice, I noticed the large red and white banners that covered the fence to the playing field as well as an entire outside wall of the school. "Handmaid's Tale?" I thought. The colors were right, but I couldn't make out any more details until we got a little closer. As we reached the fence to begin our search for a parking space, the details came into focus. Larger than life weatherproof banners of every cheerleader and football or soccer athlete. Ok. So the playing field belongs to the athletes. "How about the hallways inside?" I wondered. Maybe they're lined with banners of kids who score high on SATs? Ummm....no. Further inspection revealed no banners for the intellectual stars. And how about the kids who rock kindness and empathy with every fiber of their being every day? Nope. No banners for you.
I can't get this picture out of my head a full two weeks later. What a great celebration for the athletes and their families. And what a subtle form of bullying for kids who are not part of that elite group. I have no doubt that the photographer who sells these banners and that the school officials who believe that they have found a great reward for the efforts of their super stars had the best of intentions. As an unbiased observer encountering this display for the first time, it left me breathless and gave me shivers. Shivers.
It's October. Anti bullying month. As teachers, we focus on developing anti bullying behaviors and building resilience in our kids. Some of us attend to it just for this month because really the curriculum is just so packed....I get it. And some of us try to infuse that "no bullies here" mindset throughout the year. I've always found that the best way to build stronger and somewhat bullyproof kids is by working from the inside out. It is always best to start in the first week as you build your learning community, and to keep building throughout the year. Concepts attended to only in October will most likely blow away like the leaves of November.
I have an idea or two that you might want to try now in this October and keep going through the rest of your year. Every child should be a banner star in their own mind and in the minds of their classmates.


In my experience, music makes the learning super attractive, and makes it stick. If the tune catches your kids' imaginations, the lyrics will linger for a long time. I used the songs of "I Am Bullyproof" for several years with great success both in my fourth grade classroom and in an after school anti-bullying club with fifth and sixth graders. The kids loved the songs and made their own videos and led assemblies to promote the anti-bullying concepts that they heard in the songs. Whether for their own performance or not, your kids will love watching the "Scary Guy" video and discussing how the scariest "guys" don't really wear costumes. The scariest guys are the bullies who live on our street or who sit in classrooms with us every day. October is the perfect month to talk about that.

"Old Town Road" is pretty popular right now. Your kids are probably singing and performing it constantly! Why not channel that and suggest that they write their own new version of that song with an anti-bully theme?

Baby Kaely Bully Rap is a great example of a kid-written rap to confront bullying.

Using music and taking it as far as you are comfortable with will begin the process of building stronger, more resilient kids who can stand up to bullying far into the future.



Stand in My Shoes by Bob Sornson addresses the concept of empathy. It helps kids to begin noticing the feelings of others. Kids who care about others are less likely to bully others or to be affected by bullies themselves.

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson is a great accompaniment to the Scary Guy song. The narrator is looking forward to a perfect summer, when a bully named Jeremy Ross moves into the neighborhood.   Jeremy Ross can give you shivers! He laughs when narrator makes a mistake, doesn't invite him to his trampoline birthday party, and takes over all of his best friend's time. The narrator (his name isn't mentioned) asks his dad for advice. Dad's solution is to bake an "enemy pie" (ingredients unknown and misinterpreted) and to invite the enemy for dinner to eat it. One important requirement for "enemy pie": You must spend the WHOLE DAY with the bully! I promise that your kids will love this book!

The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Grafs is a great choice in a chapter book. The thing about Georgie is that he is a “little person” or dwarf. He is a pretty well-adjusted kid until a new kid shows up who seems to be “stealing” Georgie’s best friend. Georgie makes some poor choices on his way to achieving positivity. This book is a perfect followup read for Enemy Pie because of the best friend stealing angle. 



Shivers Bucket activity
This is excerpted from our Bullyproof Rainbow unit "Positivity Rocks". This unit also includes the studio-recorded version of the "Scary Guy" song.

A Bucketful of Shivers
  • Prepare and label two buckets “SHIVERS” and “POSITIVE THOUGHTS”
  Although plentiful around Halloween time (I love using the purple and green ones instead of the  
  more traditional orange and black), you can usually find small buckets any time of year at craft and    dollar stores. This can also be a bulletin board display. Print the green and purple buckets in this 
  resource on cardstock. (If you don't have the resource, you can draw two bucket fronts yourself.)  
  Cut out and staple to a bulletin board, slightly bringing in the right and left sides, and stapling         across the bottom for a 3-D effect. 
  • Discuss the ways in which others can sometimes give each of us the shivers (those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings we get when someone says or does something creepy, mean, or depressing).
  • Ask each student to write something he/she has heard or observed that gives him/her the shivers on a sticky note or small scrap of paper and deposit it in the bucket. 
  • Once all have responded, take the paper slips out of the Shiver bucket, and give each student a blank two column page labelled “Shivers-Positive Thoughts”  to attach the “shiver slip” to and to rewrite in a positive way. 
  • Ask for volunteers to share their reframed positive thoughts. 
Complete your community reflection with these important prompts:
  • Words matter
  • Actions matter
  • Thoughts matter


Make it Personal and Reward what Matters!

Give your students an opportunity to celebrate their own unique qualities with these two resources:
Personal Flags
SuperStar Banners (Coming soon for free to subscribers of the Rainbow City Learning Newsletter! Make sure that you are signed up! Look for the pop up box on this blog!)

Try adding one of these reward card systems to your own PBIS:
HERO Toolkit
MENSCH Toolkit
Rock Star Students

Click on the graphic above to find these great resources for Bullyproofing your kids at Rainbow City Learning on TpT!

To hear our discussion of Enemy Pie and other great books to include in your plans this month, listen to our podcast on We Teach So Hard! Just click below!



Hope your October is only the beginning of a bully free year year in your classroom!









For more October thoughts and teaching inspiration, don't miss the great posts by our Teacher Talk bloggers! Linkuups only by Teacher Talk bloggers please! If you'd like to join our group, email me at retta.london@gmail.com.


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Fearless Learning Free Lesson


"Catch me!" my three year old granddaughter screamed as she jumped into the swimming pool, knowing all along that someone would surely be there to catch her. She was never wrong! My eight year old grandson, along for the bike ride to encourage me as I relearn a long forgotten skill, takes his hands off the handlebars and gleefully coasts on the downhill as I pump the hand brakes and pray that I stay upright. We are all born with that fearless learning gene. I'm currently reaching back and searching to reclaim mine.

Taylor Swift has a song. Fearless. "Dance in a storm with my best dress.." kind of fearless. Hands off the handlebars fearless. Jump in the deep end fearless. We are born with it, and many of your students still have that fearless gene. Why not celebrate it, maximize it, and make it work for learning in your classroom this year? Call it Growth Mindset if you wish, but fearless learning has been present in the universe since the beginning of time. It's who we are at our core.

Lessia Bonn (I Am Bullyproof Music) has a song called Fearless also. Written long before Taylor Swift's song, Lessia's "Fearless" was an integral part of my classroom practice from the day I discovered it. I worked on some (IMO) pretty amazing learning units with Lessia for a couple of years, based on her music. Using the Bullyproof songs brought so much magic to my learning community during my last few years in the classroom. Here's a video made by my Rainbow City kids during that time. All about what being Fearless means to them - in life, in relationships, in learning.

Denise Brennan-Nelson wrote a sweet little book called Willow. Willow is a fearless artist, drawing and painting whatever her heart tells her to create. Her teacher, Miss Hawthorn, seems to have lost her own inner artist. She likes her apples round and red, and her trees tall and green with brown trunks. Miss Hawthorn likes a clean and tidy art room, with very specific uses for her materials and very specific responses to her lessons. Enter Willow, a student and artist who teaches Miss Hawthorn a thing or two about art and life and fearless learning. Miss Hawthorn is able to reach back and recapture her own true inner artist. I have a lesson on this book in this Bullyproof Rainbow unit.
Sharing part of it here with you for FREE! I hope you'll enjoy using it and remember to return to the download page and leave some awesome feedback! As always, I would love to see pictures (and even videos) of your students' responses to this lesson!

Hope you'll check out this blog post on Using the Arts to Teach Perseverance!








Click on the image for your freebie!